Six Companies, Inc. was a joint venture of construction companies that was formed to build the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River in Nevada and Arizona.
They later built Parker Dam, a portion of the Grand Coulee Dam, the Colorado River Aqueduct across the Mojave and Colorado Deserts to urban Southern California, and many other large projects.
A consortium was formed by Utah Construction Company of Ogden, Utah, (general contractors), in order to submit a bid for the Hoover Dam construction contract. Because of the immense size of the first dam on the Colorado River, no single contractor had the resources to make a qualified bid alone.Utah Construction Company (Wattis brothers; E.O and W.H Wattis) and vice president Andrew H. Christensen asked Harry W. Morrison of Morrison-Knudsen (now Washington Group International, a division of URS Corporation) to join them on this venture.
After they realized the bid would be much higher than expected, the Wattis Brothers and Morrison-Knudsen convinced others to join. These six companies (Utah Construction, Morrison-Knudsen, Kaiser, Bechtel, Pacific Bridge and MacDonald&Kahn) with the help of Frank T. Crowe worked out the bid. In February of 1931 the Six Companies was incorporated.
Six Companies, Inc.: President W.H. Wattis, First Vice President W.A. Bechtel, 2nd Vice President E.O. Wattis, Secretary Charles A Shea, Treasurer Felix Kahn and Assistant Secretary-Treasurer K.K. Bechtel. Board members included: W.H. Wattis, E.O. Wattis, Charles A. Shea, Felix Kahn, Stephen D. Bechtel, Henry J. Kaiser, Alan MacDonald and Philip Hart. On March 4, 1931 the US Secretary of the Interior awards Six Companies, Incorporated’s bid for project Boulder Dam. The Six Companies board selected Frank Crowe, an employee of Morrison-Knudsen as the General Construction Superintendent of the Boulder Dam construction. Crowe also drafted the bid, hired each of the men who were employed during the course of the project, lived in Boulder City with his wife and two daughters and was on the dam site every day of the week until the project was completed. He was rewarded a bonus percentage of the profit for completing virtually every portion of the job well ahead of schedule. Six Companies, Inc. started working in late spring, around June of 1931.
Six Companies Inc. was composed of:
- Henry J. Kaiser Co. of Oakland, California and Bechtel Corporation of San Francisco (Bechtel-Kaiser): 30%
- MacDonald and Kahn of Los Angeles, California: 20%
- Utah Construction Company of Ogden, Utah: 20%
- Morrison-Knudsen of Boise, Idaho: 10%,
- Pacific Bridge Company of Portland, Oregon: 10%
- J.F. Shea Co of Portland, Oregon: 10%
Six Companies Inc. won the contract in 1931, after a bid of US $48,890,955 ($962 million in 2021 dollars). The project was so complex and large that only three bids were received. The Six Companies Inc. bid was $5,000,000 lower than the next bidder
The Six Companies completed construction of “Hoover Dam” in 5 years, two years ahead of schedule in 1935, Officially. Unofficially? Some sources say it took nine years (1938–47) under relative secrecy, to fix serious leaks with a supplemental grout curtain.
Six Companies RailRoad
To build a dam of this size, you need a railroad to bring in all the supplies and equipment. The Six Companies also built the 19.1-mile (30.7 km) Six Companies Railroad. It connected along the Hemenway Wash, present-day Las Vegas Bay, to the US Government Hoover Dam Railroad at Lawler, Nevada, a location also known as “US Government Junction”. From Lawler the railroad went north for seven miles (11 km) to Saddle Island and then east to the Three-Way Junction gravel plant, now submerged under Lake Mead.
From the gravel plant the line split into two branches. One branch ran south for 4.8 miles (7.7 km) to Hoover Dam via Cape Horn, Lomix (the Low Level Concrete Mixing Plant) and Himix (the High Level Concrete Mixing Plant), and the dam face. The other branch is now also submerged under Lake Mead and ran north for 7.3 miles (11.7 km) across the Las Vegas Wash, crossed the Colorado River on a bridge into Arizona and the Arizona gravel pit (Arizona Gravel Deposits) at a location two miles (3.2 km) from Callville.
The line was constructed by railroad contractor John Phillips of San Francisco, California. The dam was dedicated in September 1935 and the Six Companies, Inc. railroad line is now submerged.
The US Government Railroad had a 10-mile (16 km) branch that brought supplies by rail from a connection with the Boulder City Branch of the Union Pacific Railroad at Boulder City, Nevada.